A Power Couple in Saudi Arabia Raises Eyebrows after ‘Disappearance’

Saudi Arabia has been conducting crackdown on dissidents for a long time now and many people have been arrested in the wake of the crackdowns. Just before the dust could settle on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a famous couple has been reported missing. Loujain al-Hathloul aged 29 and Fahad al-Butairi were arrested severally before they were reported missing.

The Arrest of Hathloul

Hathloul, a women’s right-to-drive activist was arrested in UAE while driving before she was sent to Saudi Arabia where she was detained before being released. After a few weeks, Hathloul together with Eman al-Nafjan, Samar Badawi, Aziza al-Yousef, Hatoon al-Fassi and Nouf Abdelaziz were arrested on suspicion of recruiting people to fill in sensitive government positions, seeking assistance from foreign entities in order to support their ‘illegal’ activities and offering financial support to elements considered hostile outside the country.

Saud Al-Qahtani Threats to the Women,

While interrogating the arrested women activities, Saud al-Qahtani, a former aide of MBS (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is said to have threatened the women. According to some people and Human Rights Watch, the former aide is said to have said that he would not only rape one of the women, but he would also kill her, throw her in a sewage system and pretend nothing happened.  

The women however did not go without torture during the time they were detained. They underwent flogging, electrocution and even sexual harassment.

The Arrest of Fahad Al-Butairi

Fahad who is a stand-up comedian was arrested around the same time as his wife in Jordan and detained in his home country before he was released. For him, it was never clear why he was arrested and detained but it could be because of his links with Hathloul and the fact that his video “No Woman, No Drive” was supporting the ban of prohibition of women to drive in the country.

Their Disappearance

Although the ban for women to drive was lifted, it is unclear what happened after their arrest. They were released but have stayed out of the limelight. Known as “Jerry Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia,” it is not yet clear why he divorced his wife and closed his Twitter accounts. No one has been able to give the reasons as to why the couple divorced and no one knows what is going on in their lives. A Saudi official however refuted the claims and said that the Kingdom will ensure justice is served to those tortured and it will uphold accountability.